Taoiseach sacks Reilly as his deputy leader in 'warning shot to Fine Gael dissidents'
Published 11/06/2016 | 02:30
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has sacked James Reilly as his deputy leader in a move seen as a warning shot to Fine Gael dissidents.
Mr Kenny caused surprise within political circles yesterday after revealing Dr Reilly will now be replaced as deputy leader - just days after he was appointed to the Seanad.
"No, James is not the deputy leader of the party. Obviously, he was the deputy leader and he did a very good job," Mr Kenny said.
Dr Reilly, who lost his seat in the general election, was one of several Fine Gael politicians handed a Seanad seat by Mr Kenny last week.
However, the move to strip him of his deputy leadership is seen as a direct response to Dr Reilly's call for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment last year.
Yesterday, the Taoiseach said any decision in relation to the Eighth Amendment must not be rushed.
Mr Kenny said he had received many letters from women who have had abortions and that the Citizens' Convention will not involve politicians.
"This is something that is so traumatic and sensitive and personal for some people and families," he said.
"It has divided Irish society for a long time. I myself have struggled with this. It's a profound issue," he added.
On Thursday, the UN described Ireland's treatment of women carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality as "cruel, inhuman and degrading".
Mr Kenny said the UN's report was not binding and that TDs will be allowed to "vote with their conscience".
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny said he does not intend to step aside as leader anytime soon and not until the Programme for Government is implemented.
And he would not be drawn on who he believes will replace him or how the handover should take place.
There is a growing view within the party that Mr Kenny will step down as Fine Gael leader at the next election but remain on as Taoiseach until the result.
Mr Kenny also responded to claims by prominent backbencher Kate O'Connell that the recent ministerial and Seanad appoints represent 'jobs for the boys'.
"She has a big future in politics if she wants to stay in it," Mr Kenny said of Ms O'Connell.